NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has directed the Delhi high court to decide the applicability of the Right to Information (RTI) Act to intelligence and security organisations of the government while setting aside its order directing a department to furnish information to an employee on seniority and promotions. The SC bench said the HC passed the directions without deciding the objection of the government department that the RTI Act was not applicable to it. “It is the specific case on behalf of the department that the RTI Act was not applicable to the organisation/department. Despite the above and without deciding such an objection, the HC has directed the appellant to furnish the documents sought without deciding the applicability of the RTI Act. That will be putting the cart before the horse,” the bench said. The apex court said the high court ought to have decided the issue with respect to the applicability of the RTI Act to the organisation or department first. “We direct the HC to first decide the issue with respect to the applicability of the RTI Act to the appellant organisation/department and thereafter decide the stay application/LPA. The aforesaid exercise shall be completed within eight weeks,” the bench said. The SC was hearing an appeal filed by the Centre against the 2018 decision of the HC, which directed the department to provide information to the employee within 15 days. The counsel appearing on behalf of the Centre had told the HC that the department from which information was sought is exempted as per Section 24(1) of the RTI Act. Therefore, the CIC order is contradictory to Section 24 of the RTI Act.

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